The Fred Lantern…


The Green Lantern is an unfairly lambasted movie in my opinion. It has all the elements inherent in any good origin story for a super hero, flawed, hot-headed hero with immense power, love interest, far off planets, space ships, villains and tight crotch punishing outfits.

The story follows a predictable path. Normal guy with issues is minding his own business and then bam! He’s chosen by some force or the other to be a guardian of the universe, not to be confused with guardian of the galaxy, lest we become subject to legal wrangling over naming rights. Once he has his power he has to learn to use it. Enter a montage of training clips where he is mentored by a great and powerful leader. He is constantly reminded about how great the guy before him was and how he’ll never be able to fill his shoes and at first he fails and is useless, and then slowly but surely he masters his powers and you think he is going to become the hero that he is destined to be. Then he faces a powerful foe and is beaten, or something, loses his confidence and runs away like a little b*tch.

After some soul searching the hero realises that it is within himself to triumph over evil, that all that stands between him and the hero he so desperately wishes he could be is his own fear, his own doubts in his own abilities. In a crescendo of uplifting music and slow motion action shots, he takes his place besides the other Green Lanterns after re-earning their trust by doing something selfless and saving the day. He gets the girl and a standing ovation for being the awesome guy that he is.

It isn’t a stretch comparing professional sportspeople with super heroes, especially the flawed ones. Earlier today I read a column by Khanyiso Tshwaku in which he examined the plight of under fire Sharks flyhalf Fred Zeilinga.

Fred has had the unenviable task of filling Pat Lambie’s shoes. Pat is an exceptional rugby player, made even more so by his calm head and eye for space. He seems to have that extra few seconds to make decisions that other players envy. Unfortunately he got injured and Fred had to take over, after very little game time. This came after the Shark’s other flawed heroes were sent to the naughty chair for a few weeks after losing their head, in one instance, and in the other simply being too strong for their own good. Having lost Pat Lambie and Frans Steyn, Fred was asked to take over the mantle and lead the backline unit and he hasn’t been done any favours. He has an inexperienced 12 outside him and an unsettled backline with little to no idea how they’re supposed to be playing. He too is young and lacks experience, yet he was asked to do the impossible.

This is where we find ourselves in his superhero journey. He is down, he is under pressure and he’ll probably be benched this weekend in favour of the returning Frans Steyn. Fred will have time to reflect on what has happened and perhaps, like Ryan Reynolds, he’ll have that moment of clarity that frees his mind so that he might play the way he knows he can.

Hopefully then he’ll get his crescendo of uplifting music and slow motion action shots. Maybe we’ll see him slicing backlines to shreds, making amazing passes, kicking impossible kicks and scoring brilliant tries. Maybe then he’ll get that standing ovation for being the awesome hero he can be!

In the end it will be up to him to make that happen. As for the rest of us, all we can do really is keep supporting the guy and the team, keep going to the games, keep cheering so that maybe he and his team mates know that they are not alone, that they are fighting for something bigger than themselves and whatever nonsense is going on behind the scenes, let them know that we are their fans and are behind them all the way, win or lose.